If you’re a manager of a large organization’s IT services, you have a plethora of choices to make when it comes to the ways in which your organization collaborates on and shares content. This is true of any organization, public or private, military or civilian. The marketplace for Knowledge Management (KM) tools offers plenty of options to review and choose. Software solutions such as Huddle, SharePoint, Dropbox, Google Drive, Documentum, Hummingbird DM, Alfresco, among many others, all strive to meet your organization’s need to share information effectively. While there are no quick and easy answers as to which tool is best for your specific needs, there are processes that your organization can adopt to help you choose the optimal KM tool.

Drive to change

Departments and teams within organizations are often the primary identifiers of a need for change in how a business or business unit collaborates and shares content. Many of these needs come from first-hand experience, some of it good, some negative. Regardless of the root cause for the need to change a practice, the requirement must be reported up the chain of command to those who can influence a change in how the business works. Having such channels and a way for this communication to be a two-way path are crucial to understanding the needs of the workforce. The workforce’s requirement for an effective collaboration and sharing service then has to be balanced with the frameworks and security measures that management has to adhere to.

Identify problem(s)

As part of the drive to change, there has to be a realistic and holistic pin-pointing of where the described problems lie. Many managers may need to ask themselves the following questions when it comes to poor collaboration and content sharing practices: Is it a training issue? Is it a timing issue? Are old habits permeating the business unit or organization? Is there a disconnect between management and teams? Are these problems measurable? Are the issues unique to this organization or is this issue seen elsewhere in our market? If a problem is identified, what are the options for implementing a lasting, cost-effective solution? Should we outsource this solution or not? Do we need to manage our data or are there secure providers available? Are there best practices being used in identifying and solving this problem? Once an organization can ask itself these sorts of questions and come up with a clear answer, it can then set itself goals and deploy and effective solution

Understand the workforce

This may be an obvious point to make, but this is an important aspect any manager needs to balance against goals and requirements. Many KM tools involve software, varied interfaces, different inputs, plus training and learning curves. All of these have to be taken into account against current-state systems and how the workforce interacts with such systems. If management is not already receiving analytics from the IT departments about what systems are utilized and how long it takes to complete tasks, this sort of monitoring should be a part of the goals. It’s important within an organization to also identify employees who are known to be curious about new technologies or provide an alternative point of view about how to efficiently and effectively complete tasks as they may have some great ideas about what can be done to overcome knowledge sharing issues. The average age of the workforce, its distribution across the globe, the size of teams or business units and how long employees stay with the organization (i.e. are there a large number of consultants on contracts), are all crucial elements to understanding how your workforce works.

Tomorrow, I’ll be sharing some tips on the goals to set for your KM system and how to best use the information gathered from early adopters across your business.

Bryan Vanetten

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